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The Meaning of Truth

might well be respected as prophetic.
Apparently my absolutist critics fail to see the workings of their
own minds in any such picture, so all that I can do is to apologize,
and take my offering back. The absolute is true in NO way then, and
least of all, by the verdict of the critics, in the way which I
My treatment of 'God,' 'freedom,' and 'design' was similar.
Reducing, by the pragmatic test, the meaning of each of these
concepts to its positive experienceable operation, I showed them all
to mean the same thing, viz., the presence of 'promise' in the
world. 'God or no God?' means 'promise or no promise?' It seems to
me that the alternative is objective enough, being a question as to
whether the cosmos has one character or another, even though our own
provisional answer be made on subjective grounds. Nevertheless
christian and non-christian critics alike accuse me of summoning
people to say 'God exists,' EVEN WHEN HE DOESN'T EXIST, because
forsooth in my philosophy the 'truth' of the saying doesn't
really mean that he exists in any shape whatever, but only that to
say so feels good.
Most of the pragmatist and anti-pragmatist warfare is over what the
word 'truth' shall be held to signify, and not over any of the
facts embodied in truth-situations; for both pragmatists and anti-
pragmatists believe in existent objects, just as they believe in our
ideas of them. The difference is that when the pragmatists speak of
truth, they mean exclusively some thing about the ideas, namely
their workableness; whereas when anti-pragmatists speak of truth
they seem most often to mean something about the objects. Since the
pragmatist, if he agrees that an idea is 'really' true, also
agrees to whatever it says about its object; and since most anti-
pragmatists have already come round to agreeing that, if the object
exists, the idea that it does so is workable; there would seem so
little left to fight about that I might well be asked why instead of
reprinting my share in so much verbal wrangling, I do not show my
sense of 'values' by burning it all up.
I understand the question and I will give my answer. I am interested
in another doctrine in philosophy to which I give the name of
radical empiricism, and it seems to me that the establishment of the
pragmatist theory of truth is a step of first-rate importance in
making radical empiricism prevail. Radical empiricism consists first
of a postulate, next of a statement of fact, and finally of a
generalized conclusion.
The postulate is that the only things that shall be debatable among
philosophers shall be things definable in terms drawn from
experience. [Things of an unexperienceable nature may exist ad
libitum, but they form no part of the material for philosophic
The statement of fact is that the relations between things,
conjunctive as well as disjunctive, are just as much matters of
direct particular experience, neither more so nor less so, than the
things themselves.
The generalized conclusion is that therefore the parts of experience